BuzzFeed is looking to expand beyond its reputation for cat pictures and rapid-fire, socially viral lists. This Monday, the site announced the creation of its own investigative reporting unit under the supervision of Mark Schoofs. Schoofs is most recently a senior editor at ProPublica, a renowned non-profit investigative journalism organization. And BuzzFeed isn’t the only digital native site that’s embracing investigative reporting; this week, the Huffington Post published a penetrating report on a network of juvenile detention centers riddled with abuse and mismanagement. For this episode of Mediatwits, we’re joined by BuzzFeed’s Mark Schoofs, as well as Chris Kirkham, the reporter behind the Huffington Post report. We’ll also be joined by Erle Norton, the new executive producer of ABC News Digital, to discuss how broadcast media are evolving in the increasingly digital news ecosystem, as well as ABC’s partnership with Yahoo News. Mediatwits roundtable regular and two-time host Andrew Lih of American University will chime in as well, and Mark Glaser is back from paternity leave to host.
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Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He is a longtime freelance writer and editor, who has contributed to magazines such as Entertainment Weekly, Wired and Conde Nast Traveler, and websites such as CNET and the Yale Global Forum. He lives in San Francisco with his wife Renee and son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.
Andrew Lih is a new media journalist and associate professor of journalism at the American University School of Communication. He is the author of “The Wikipedia Revolution” (Hyperion 2009, Aurum UK 2009) and is a noted expert on online collaboration and journalism. He is a veteran of AT&T Bell Laboratories and in 1994 created the first online city guide for New York City (www.ny.com). Follow him on Twitter @fuzheado and buy his book here.
Erle Norton is the Executive Producer of ABC News Digital and oversees editorial and video operations across ABCNews.com. Prior to joining ABC News, Erle served as the Editorial Director of Reuters Digital Video at Thompson Reuters where he managed video operations for Reuters.com and other platforms worldwide. Before his move to Thompson Reuters, Erle oversaw NYPost.com where he managed editorial content for the site and helped increase integration between the digital and print teams. Throughout the 1990s, Erle was a business reporter for the Wall Street Journal and also served as one of the first employees at TheStreet.com.
Chris Kirkham, 29, is a business reporter at the Huffington Post in New York, where he has worked for three years covering the business of higher education and prisons. Previously he worked as an environmental and politics reporter at The Times-Picayune in New Orleans. For the newspaper’s coverage of the BP oil spill, he and a team of reporters won the Edward J. Meeman Award for environmental reporting from the Scripps-Howard Foundation and received second place for Columbia University’s John B. Oakes Award for environmental journalism. A native of Texas, Chris earned Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
Mark Schoofs is currently a senior editor at ProPublica, a key institution in American investigative journalism, where he has been since 2011. Before that, he had worked for more than 11 years at The Wall Street Journal, where he was a foreign correspondent and an investigative reporter for Page One. Schoofs played a key role in investigations ranging from abuse and fraud in Medicare to the international methamphetamine trade. He contributed to the Journal’s coverage of the Sept. 11 attacks, which won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News. Prior to the Journal, Schoofs was a staff writer at The Village Voice, where he won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his eight-part series on AIDS in Africa. He has also written for The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Esquire, Out, and many other publications. Schoofs has reported from more than 25 countries on four continents. He holds two United States patents. He earned a B.A. in philosophy from Yale University, where he has also taught a seminar on journalism.
1. Broadcast media searches for digital footing
While digital native sites such as Quartz, BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post are in their element online, traditional news media — especially broadcast — has been forced to adapt to a new digital age. Many outlets are pouring capital into their digital platforms, redesigning websites and adapting to the constant news cycle that the Internet demands. ABC News, among them, has recently hired Erle Norton from Thompson Reuters’ video operations in order to oversee the network’s expansion of their digital news department. The outlet has also partnered with Yahoo News to expand its online presence and jockey for relevance in the digital sphere. Broadcast outlets are faced with a unique problem in the digital age: how do they package their product for an easily-bored, constantly clicking audience? Especially as non-broadcast outlets such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal create original video content online, the digital identity of traditional broadcast journalism looks increasingly murky. How has ABCNews.com evolved over the years and what’s ahead?
2. Is investigative reporting expanding online?
As many metro newspapers slash budgets and lay off reporters, the former hotbeds of investigative reporting have begun to look endangered. Non-profit organizations such as ProPublica and the Center for Investigative Reporting are increasingly the epicenter of investigative journalism, but enterprise reporting might be expanding into less expected for-profit places. The recent creation of an investigative unit within BuzzFeed, as well as Huffington Post’s continuing push into enterprise reporting, point to the possibility of some expansion for the arduous and expensive work that is investigative reporting. Curiously, these sites present the model of featuring very serious investigative reports alongside lighter, socially viral pieces. Is this is a possible business model to sustain investigative reporting? LOL Cats paying for watchdog reporting? What does that mean for investigative reporting, and the ambition of sites such as BuzzFeed?
Vivian Schiller to Leave NBC News for Twitter (NY Times)
Associated Press fires reporter and editor over Terry McAuliffe report (Huffington Post)
David Pogue goes from NYT to Yahoo (GigaOm)
Clinton takes on Fox News over Benghazi narrative (New York Times)
NSA intercepts French phone calls (On the Media)
Facebook reverses stance on violent videos (AllThingsD)
Claire Groden is the podcast intern for PBS Mediashift and a current senior at Dartmouth College. You can follow Claire on Twitter @ClaireGroden.